Benefits of naps

Sally sat on her bed with her homework on her lap and did her best to focus. She was exhausted from a day of school and softball practice and she wanted to finish her homework before she went to sleep, but as she started to fill out the sheet in front of her she drifted off to sleep. She woke up an hour later, at first frustrated that she had wasted time that could have spent working. But when she started on her homework again, she was more focused and aware than before and had soon finished her work.

Taking a short nap (between 20-30 minutes) has been proven to have many physical benefits. According to a study done by NASA, sleepy military pilots and astronauts who took a 40-minute nap improved their alertness by 100% and their overall performance by 34%.

Not only do naps improve your physical performance, but it can also have psychological or even medical benefits.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, naps can allow you to relax and rejuvenate and scheduled napping is also prescribed for those who suffer from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder which causes excessive daytime sleeping. A scheduled nap every day may help with the need to sleep during the day.

There are also different types of naps that can be beneficial in different situations, we already described a situation in which scheduled napping would be beneficial. Scheduled napping is similar to planned napping which is when you plan to take a nap before you actually get tired, for example, when you know you will have to be awake later than usual a planned nap can help you be more rested.

Emergency napping is used when you are too tired to continue an activity, an emergency nap can help with drowsiness and fatigue and is especially helpful if you are too tired to drive.

Habitual napping is when someone takes a nap at the same time every day, similar to scheduled napping. Children use habitual napping every day, but these naps are not only useful to children but adults too.

Even with all of these benefits, naps may not always be helpful. Naps that are too long may cause sleep inertia which can include disorientation and grogginess and can last up to 30 minutes. This may be a short amount of time but this can still affect those who are very active right after a long nap.

Naps may also have a negative effect on your other scheduled sleep. Although naps usually don’t affect other sleeping patterns, longer naps can make going to sleep later in the day more difficult. Sleeping at night may also become difficult if you take a nap too late in the day.

Although napping may cause sleep inertia or harm your other sleeping patterns, it usually is beneficial to your mental and physical health, helping you rejuvenate and eliminate drowsiness while improving your focus and alertness.